by Shane Corrigan
at First Ulsters Park
Ballyhaise had minimal fuss as they crushed Swanlinbar with 15 points to spare at a wet and windy Ballyconnell this afternoon to move into the last four of the intermediate championship.
Ciaran O'Malley's side simply never looked back once they registered their first goal through Padraig Moore after four minutes, with their counterparts from the west of the county losing star Gearoid McKiernan just prior half-time before being reduced to 14 halfway through the second-half.
A goal from Martin Conaty, who finished with 2-3, helped create a seven-point margin for the 2015 champions by the interval and they kept their foot on the throttle, producing some eye-catching football in the process, to make sure there'd be no doubt over a semi-final berth.
Ballyhaise's start was a perfect one which saw Moore fully exploiting an unfortunate early injury to marker Greg McGovern by firing to Gerry Scollan's net unmarked inside five minutes.
Moore should have had another two minutes later when he was slipped through by his captain Shane Briody but he forced a brilliant save out of Scollan second time round.
Three more points would fly over the Swad net-minder's bar anyway, with Stephen Kane, Aodhagan Watters and Moore all raising white flags before Conor Walsh eventually got the west siders off the mark at the other end come the 15th minute.
It failed to halt the stride Ballyhaise were in however, as Colm Reilly and Conaty kept the points coming and although the latter would be cancelled out by Michael Cunningham (free), Swad were still left with a mountain of work once David Brady's quick free released Conaty and he crashed the ball home for all three points.
Brady became the fifth Ballyhaise forward to get on the score-sheet inside the opening 20 minutes - making it 2-6 to 0-2 - ahead of Gearoid McKiernan breaking away from the attentions of Conor Lyons long enough to send over a trademark point from the left wing.
McKiernan's afternoon would be over a couple of minutes later, suffering a deep gash on his chin that wouldn't see him return for the second-half, making matters much worse for Colm Bradley's charges.
Three more Cunningham frees and a fine score from skipper Bhreifne McKiernan, who was stationed at full-forward, saw Swad finish out the half in a more positive fashion but Scallon got them off the hook again by deflecting Kevin Tierney's 25-metre goal effort with his knee.
The loss of midfielder Sean McCormack to a black card for a drag down on Chris Curran was just about the only downside to the first-half for Ballyhaise, as they got in from the rain leading 2-8 to 0-7.
Despite the loss of McKiernan, Swad would have taken some positives from the way they finished out the first-half but they were soon brought crashing back down to earth.
After getting turned over in their own half-back line, the St Mary's men couldn't prevent possession getting to an unmarked Colm Reilly and the Ballyhaise veteran made sure with the finish, ushering the Annalee Park outfit 10 in front five minutes into the restart.
Conaty (2) and Brady piled on the misery as O'Malley's men kept up the slick passing and fluid movement to expose the gaps in their opponents' defence - they also had the finishers to make it all count.
Damian Leydon landed Swad's first score of the second-half on 43 minutes but it was soon wiped out once their last line was penalised for a foot-block in the square. Conaty did the honours from the spot.
Up by 15 with as many minutes remaining, Ballyhaise had the luxury of withdrawing full-forward Moore - replacing him with 2015 Intermediate 'Footballer of the Year' Stephen Smith - while Swad went down to 14 with the dismissal of Greg McGovern.
Some tarnish was taken off the scoreboard for Bradley's men when Ruairi Curran fired in a fine finish past the dive of Gary O'Rourke, but even with the loss of playmaker Tierney to a black card late on the victors would still manage to hit the net one last time.
This time it was the excellent Brady that made sure of maximum profit from a blistering run down the left, using sub Conor McEntee for a one-two pass before sending a splendid finish past Scollan, ensuring that the 15-point margin remained between the teams at the final whistle.
Ballyhaise: Gary O'Rourke; Darren Reilly, Mark Brennan, Stephen Kane (0-1); Desmond Reilly, Shane Briody, Marcus Duffy; Conor Lyons, Sean McCormack; Martin Conaty (2-3, 1 pen), Kevin Tierney, Aodhagan Watters (0-2); Colm Reilly (1-1), Padraig Moore (1-3), David Brady (1-2). Subs: Barry Reilly, Stephen Smith, Francis McConnell, Conor McEntee, Michael Brady.
Swanlinbar: Gerry Scollan; John Joe McGovern, Bhreifne McKiernan (0-1), Cathal O'Sullivan; Chris Curran, Greg McGovern, Joseph O'Brien; Gearoid McKiernan (0-1), Ryan Maher; Damian Leydon (0-1), Michael Cunningham (0-4, 3f), Ruairi Curran (1-0); Ruairi McBarron (0-1), Michael Curran, Conor Walsh (0-1). Subs: Thomas O'Brien, Dylan O'Sullivan, Ben Walsh, Robbie Prior, Conor Maguire.
Ref: Tony Gregory (Bailieborough Shamrocks)Tweet